When I’m doing arm or leg exercises, or simply lying in bed reading or writing, a conscious or unconscious motion causes an unexpected contraction of an unknown muscle of another limb. When I’m exercising my left arm with the resistance band, I have to grip the handle of the band in order to pull the elastic close to me and let it go. As soon as I grip the handle, I feel my lips tightening and have to willingly relax them. When I focus on lifting or swinging my left leg, my right gluts tighten. When I try to flex my left foot, it flexes and turns to the right at the same time. My nurse aid has to hold it to prevent it from turning.
To exercise my left fingers, I use a pill jar full of coins to increase its weight. I have to grab the pill jar, turn down my wrist, press my left fingers strongly, hold my left forearm with my right hand, and relax my fingers to drop the pill jar; its heavy weight makes the jar fall. When I press my fingers hard to grip the pill jar, my left forearm elevates, but when I attempt to lift my forearm without the help of my right, I fail.
And then, reflex contractions occur that take me by surprise. When I’m lying in bed and yawn, I suddenly feel my left hand on my chest. When my nurse aid sticks a cold pad on my left leg in preparation for my bike ride (for electrodes to stimulate my muscles), or my leg itches, it suffers an uncontrollable spasm or starts shaking. To stop the spasms, I have to relieve the itch, but I can’t stop my foot from shaking. I try stretching it with all my might, to no avail. And when I tighten my left quad to lift my leg and rest it on my right thigh to put on my sock and shoe, my right glut tightens in its stead.
All day long, my body behaves in ways that remind me that our bodies are connected. I know about lateralization, that is, the connection between the two brain hemispheres, but the questions remain: What modes of connection exist between our brain and our body? How do the innervations to our muscles connect? Do they cross paths? I don’t know the answers, but these phenomena always raise questions I could only reply by opening books I’d already put away, and they remind me of my old, forgotten love.